Kandinsky’s Painting of Lover Re-Emerges On Market for First Time After 50 Years

Last summer, two masterpieces by Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) broke auction record for the artist twice at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art in London. In the coming summer, the auction house is going to present another great work from the artist’s career when he was transitioning from figuration to abstraction. The oil re-emerges on the market after being kept in private hands for half a century, carrying an estimate of £3m-5m.

Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky was a pioneer of abstract modern art. He was best known for exploiting the interrelation between colour and forrm

Kandinsky's Gabriele Münter Painting Outdoors in front of an Easel, estimate: £3m-5m

Gabriele Münter im Freien vor der Staffelei (Gabriele Münter Painting Outdoors in front of an Easel) was painted by Wassily Kandinsky in 1910, a key period for the artist that marks his transition into abstraction. It was during that year that he had found the language he sought – sweeping lines, beautiful iridescent patches of colour and kaleidoscopic imagery.

Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter

Depicted in the painting is Kandinsky’s companion and lover, Germain painter Gabriele Münter, at her easel in the surroundings of the Bavarian mountains. In 1902, Kandinsky, at his age of 36, first met Münter (aged 25) when she began taking classes at the Phalanx School in Munich. They became very close and travelled out of Munich into the Bavarian countryside to draw and paint together. And in 1908 they discovered the small town of Murnau, surrounded by the Alpine landscape, where it had a profound effect on their art.

Gabriele Münter appeared in many Kandinsky's paintings. The above one was painted in 1905

The painting offers a valuable insight into this relationship. Münter appears in four paintings from this period – of which the present work is the only one still in private hands. In this work, Kandinsky achieved a delicate balance between the subtle figuration of Münter and the almost completely abstracted landscape that surrounds her.

Kandinsky’s Landschaft mit grünem Haus (Murnau – Landscape with Green House) was sold for £20m

Kandinsky’s Murnau — Landschaft mit grünem Haus (Murnau — Landscape with Green House was sold for £33m

Last June, Wassily Kandinsky’s 1909 Landschaft mit grünem Haus (Murnau – Landscape with Green House) was sold for £20m (premium included), holding the auction record for the artist for a few minutes, until the artisti’s 1913  Murnau — Landschaft mit grünem Haus (Murnau — Landscape with Green House broke the record after selling for £33m (premium included).


Wassily Kandinsky. Gabriele Münter Im Freien Vor Der Staffelei  (Gabriele Münter Painting Outdoors in Front of an Easel).

Lot no.: 12
Painted in 1910
Size: 32.5 x 44.5 cm

  • lexej von Jawlensky, Munich
  • Helene von Jawlensky, Ascona (by descent from the above)
  • Felix Handschin, Basel (acquired from the above in 1958)
  • Galerie Änne Abels, Cologne (acquired in 1958)
  • Dr. J. Steegmann, Köln-Marienburg (sold: Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, Stuttgart, 3rd-4th May 1962, lot 192)
  • Galleria Fedeli, Milan (purchased at the above sale)
  • Roman Norman Ketterer, Campione d'Italia
  • Galerie de Seine, Paris (acquired by 1963)
  • Eugene V. Thaw, New York
  • Private Collection, Paris (acquired from the above in 1967)
  • Thence by descent to the present owners

Estimate: £3,000,000 - 5,000,000

Auction details
Auction house: Sotheby’s London
Sale: Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale
Lots offered: 36
2018/6/14-15, 18|9am - 5pm
2018/6/16|12pm - 5pm
2018/6/17 |1pm - 5pm
2018/6/19 |9pm - 3pm
2018/6/19 |7pm